Century Magazine

Friends know that I have a secret habit of selling old books on the Internet, so I sometimes get shopping bags of books on my doorstep, left like orphans outside the fire station. Last week, my friend, Mary, dropped off some lovely forest green encyclopedias and three volumes of Century magazine indices from the 1880s. She found them by the road left for the recycling truck.

The green embossed books caught my eye first; I bet I can sell them pretty quickly. The Century indices are a boring brown, so I worried that they wouldn’t sell. But then I looked inside. Poems by Walt Whitman and Emma Lazarus. An article that looked at the statistical likelihood of getting hit by a bullet in a civil war battle. And articles by Teddy Roosevelt about life on the frontier with illustrations by Frederick Remington.

I might not sell these books.


Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

I have thirty minutes to blog. Sorry, all, for my absence. It’s been busy. I had a writing deadline on Monday, doctors appointments (routine), a Halloween party for quirky boys and their moms, and some drama with Jonah.

Jonah’s adjunct writing teacher was fired in the middle of the semester, calculus is kicking his ass, and the advisement office is incompetent. He’s been working until 4am every night, so we’re talking him through this nonsense. Sigh. I’ll write more about the adjunct situation later.

20 minutes left. Okay, let’s talk about Weinstein, Trump’s Putin connections, and Donna Brazille’s revelations about Hillary. Most people aren’t wading into the details of Trump and Clinton. They are getting enough to know these people feel that they above the law and are getting rich. When they have to pay $10,000 in monthly payments and a deductible for their health insurance,  Manafort walks away with millions from the Ukraine.

And the abuse of power by the Hollywood power players is coming at the same time. These people who are honored on red carpets, that are celebrated and airbrushed on the celebrity news sources that never once mentioned this kind of crap, that are America’s royalty. People are realizing that their heroes are, in fact, disgusting perverts.

This is going to have an impact on our society and politics. When people become cynical, they lock themselves up in the homes and communities. They fear outsiders. They stop participating in government and then corruption increases.

This can’t keep going on.

(Later this afternoon… one more blog post. A fun one.)

The Crippling Impact of Parental Stress

After Ian’s driver got him at 7:15, I answered e-mail, arranged the time schedule for the day, and wrote for 30 minutes on my pet article. (I’m not pitching it to a magazine until it’s entirely done, which is always risky. Still, I love this article so much that I’ll just put it on the blog, if I can’t find a professional home for it.) Then I went for an hour run. For the rest of morning, I checked off items — a combination of work and mom chores — from the daily schedule. I’m so damn productive that I want to barf.

Why am I getting so much done? Well, I have been much better about running and healthy living shit. Seriously, it makes a difference.

I also have a lot less parental stress in my life. Keeping a teenage boy on target for an elite college that is affordable is VERY HARD. There are landmines everywhere. There are so many ways to royally screw up, so the only recourse is moving the entire family to rural Manitoba. And there are so many dumb chores — chauffeur duties, SAT dates, prom tux measurements, physics projects, cross country banquets, college tours, German verb conjugations. All that is done. Thank God. I know he’s sweating his way through college level calc right now, but it’s not in front of me, so I can’t worry about it. Much.

Ian has been on auto-pilot for two years ever since we moved him to his new school. But before that, he was in a bad situation, which required tons of meetings and advocates and coordination. I have more driving duties now that he goes to a school that’s farther away but that is the extent of my stress. He’s getting a good and appropriate education right now. He’s super happy. Thank you, baby Jesus.

We won’t have to work about college applications, GPAs, or tux measurements for Ian. In a way, that is sad. But in a way, it’s GREAT. He’ll be in school until he’s 21, so we’ll have worries then. But that’s far away.

All that stress was fritzing out my brain. Constant adrenaline rushes. And you never knew when a crisis would pop up. So, I was always on guard, always ready for the next battle. Now, I’m getting my shit done. I’m booked with work until Thanksgiving.

I also have the brain space to take care of the little OCD tasks that make me happy. I replaced all the bath towels in the house. The boys with their damn acne cream trashed all the towels. Now, each bathroom has its own color.  The boys have white, so I can bleach the towels every month.

I also take the time to get a manicure every week. I’m finally establishing a skin regimin to include a quality neck cream and visiting the dermatologist for a regular redhead spot check up.  I’m drinking more water. I rearranged our bedroom furniture. All these little girlie changes make me very happy.

Taking a step back. Schools shouldn’t make us sad, but they do. That’s crazy.

Is Life Better Today?

As I was super busy juggling two articles last week, you guys were carrying on an interesting discussion without me. Let me bring it to the front page.

Is life better today than it was for our parents? Do we enjoy more material benefits? Are our jobs more secure? Is the world more inclusive and kinder?

Well, it is better for people like Ian. They didn’t have the words to describe people with high functioning autism ten years ago. Now, there is the assumption that people like my son should have proper education, work, and housing. Does it always happen? No. Actually, people like Ian have a 20 percent shot of getting those things. But there’s at least recognition that these rights should exist. Maybe there will actually be real progress in another ten years.

Tangent — It does bug the crap out of me that my friends who happily plant a rainbow flag on their front lawns see nothing wrong with the fact that our school district educates its special ed kids in a windowless basement.

We have a bigger house than my parents; I grew up in a two bedroom Cape Cod. But my dad spent more time at home than Steve does. Kids weren’t so stressed out about grades and colleges and after school activities, but they are also less bored. I think middle class parenting is a wash – some improvements, some negatives.

I think the biggest difference in the negative camp has to be for working class Americans. The Trump voters really do have a worse life than they did a generation ago. And that isn’t a subjective assessment; It’s showing up in the death rates. The life expectancy for working class, white women has plummeted. The opioid crisis has hit that group hard.